Mirko Masè, born in 1976 and with his contagious smile, has been an alpine guide for almost 15 years, as well as the manager of the Rock Spot climbing gym (via Gramsci, Pero, NW of Milan) since it opened.
In the summer period Mirko is always very busy and often travelling for his work as a guide (from the Val Masino to the Dolomites, an area he knows well, both with and without clients). He managed to find time, though, to meet us at Rock Spot for a brief interview and some filming.
He made this short trip back from the mountains to the city to talk about his own personal experiences using Climbing Technology’s Click Up, which he’d selected as the only belay device to be used during the climbing courses held at Rock Spot. Rock Spot organises each year various courses, both indoor and outdoor, run by alpine guides, who are highly qualified professionals capable of communicating the fundamentals of climbing in complete safety. You can say it like this: The concept of safety, so important to Climbing Technology, is at the heart of everything an alpine guide teaches.
After a brief explanation of why Mirko and his team chose the Click Up as the only belay device for courses, Mirko demonstrated its correct use with help from Anna Borella, a top-level climber and boulderer who has competed several times in the Coppa Italia and Mello Blocco.
Mirko first explained what a first course for people want to start sport climbing involves, then went into the reasons for Rockspot’s choice.
From your experience, both at the climbing wall and outdoors, what is the most frequent error made by beginners when they are belaying?
The error I see most often among beginners but also those who are no longer beginners, is the incorrect or inattentive use of the belay device they have chosen to use. All the belay devices on the market are safe if used correctly, the real problem is that the correct use is not so simple, obvious or intuitive. Sometimes a beginner can be distracted; other times they can be convinced they’re belaying correctly when they’re not. Other times the belayer uses the device badly and struggles to pay out rope. Many accidents occur due to the inexperience of the belayer and not of the climber.
In your job you have tried out all the belay devices available. Why did you select the Click Up for use at Rockspot?
There were several reasons. First of all you can pay out rope simply, quickly, and without jamming. Then after 5 years of use with course participants, all the instructors (who, remember, are alpine guides) realized that the Click Up is the device with which you have the clearest idea of how to insert the rope and how the assisted braking actually works. With the Click Up it’s easier, compared to other devices, to understand the correct use. Another very important fact: users naturally keep hold of the free end of the rope, which is fundamental for the belay device to lock when your partner falls. Thanks to this, the fall is immediately arrested.
One other thing: other devices on the market don’t lock if the rope is inserted the wrong way round. The Click Up is the only belay device in the world which lets you safely lower your partner to the ground if you realize you have inserted the rope the wrong way round: thanks to the special braking groove, it behaves just like an ATC-type device.
Sometimes beginners panic when they see their partner fall or when then have to lower them and don’t have a good feel for the rate of descent. How is the Click Up in these situations?
The Click Up’s compact form helps, but what really makes the Click Up an anti-panic device is the absence of levers or mechanical parts that you need to operate. If there is a lever, this can be used incorrectly if the user panics. Remember that generally pulling the lever lets the rope run freely. With the Click Up this can’t happen.
Is the Click Up good for belaying top-rope?
Absolutely. When top-roping the device is at its safest because the climber climbs with the rope taken in and in “locked” mode, because it’s almost impossible to keep taking in and leaving the rope slack.
Last question: what do the participants think of the Click Up?
A good number of the participants buy a Click Up at the end of the course. This is a very positive feed back: it demonstrates they liked it. Often people starting climbing don’t buy a rope and borrow one. The Click Up can work with ropes from 8.6 to 10.5 mm thick, and this fact shouldn’t be underestimated.
A big Thank You to Mirko for the explanation and the practical demonstration, to Anna for having climbed for us for the video shooting. Now we just have to put the Click Up into the rucksack and hurry to the nearest crag. TRAIN HARD!